colorful postcard with art fragments for an art exhibition called Art for Tomorrow

Current Exhibition: Art for Tomorrow

September 23 to October 25, 2020

Emerson Contemporary exhibit curated by undergraduate students

Art for Tomorrow is a culmination of perspectives on self expression and identity. Portraits, film, site-specific installations, and sculpture propose questions regarding how the individual constructs identity in a modern world. 

The exhibition is curated by 15 Emerson College undergraduate students in conjunction with a Visual Media Arts course “Curating Contemporary Art.” The process was guided by Dr. Leonie Bradbury – Emerson’s Foster Chair of Art Theory and Practice and Distinguished Curator-in-Residence. Art for Tomorrow represents the voices and desires of an emerging generation of artists. Students were responsible for all aspects of the exhibitions including: exhibit design, building a website, loan agreements, the object checklist, educational materials, social media assets, and press materials.

This exhibition is accompanied by a virtual exhibition “What’s Next? Art for Tomorrow,” hosted on Artsteps, a virtual exhibition platform. 

Process

Students sent a public call for emerging artists in the Boston area; out of the 39 responses, the following artists were selected to be showcased: Daequan Collier, Don Claude, Farimah Eshraghi, Siena Hancock, Juyon Lee, Arushi Singh, Georden West, and Zhidong Zhang. These artists were selected based on their relevance to the theme of “what’s next” and the innovative quality of the work. The themes of identity and self expression came from the works of art and were identified by the curators as central concepts.

Theme

The works selected address how various aspects of an individual’s identity – such as community, culture, and language – can both act as an obstacle in communication and create genuine relationships that deepen our understanding of ourselves. Diverse in form and representation, these thirteen artists create a modern ‘self-portrait’ of their shifting identities, reaffirming their relationship to their communities. In the uncertain times of a pandemic, artists offer collective healing through their work, saturated with personal experiences and perspectives. The work featured in the exhibition summons lucid windows that showcase each artist’s exploration of the societal structures and rituals of modern life through questions of belonging, identity and meaning.

Curators

Alexis Acosta ’21, Bia Bauzys ’20, Andy Caira ’20, Olivia Ek ’21, Simon Gusev ’20, Jacob Kornfeld ’21, Yike Luan ’20, Megan Michaud ’20, Shafaq Patel ’20, Christopher Polito ’20, Michael Rocco ’21, Maya Rubio ’21, Bao Song ’20, Emily Tegel ’20 and Lin Vega ’20.

About the Artists

Daequan Collier’s What If Black Boys Were Butterflies? is an experimental short film centered around an intimate, off-screen conversation between two Black men about the essence of Black boyhood. The film aims to capture the complexities of Black adolescence as well as familiarize viewers with the contemporary realities. For the artist, this piece is about the central need of young Black men in America—freedom. Read more about the artist at: daequancollier.com 

Don Claude (C. Eshun) presents a series of untitled photographs focused on portraiture, establishing a close connection between a viewer and a photograph. This connection allows for an intimacy that welcomes the audience to reflect on racial prejudices by defying customary photography practices—merging fashion and high art, a style that, according to the artist, reinforces critical thinking. Read more about the artist at: claudioeshun.com

Farimah Eshraghi’s Babel Series features Iranian women surrounded in texts about female representation. These documents have been distorted and rendered illegible, yet there remain hints of what they once were. Eshraghi investigates how the patriarchal system has shaped language as an oppressive force in the lives of women through folklore, fairy tales, literature, and spoken language. Distortion of reality is seen in the linguistic and visual forms of the work. Read more about the artist at: farimaheshraghi.com  

Siena Hancock’s Mirror Mask and Felt Cute Today, Might Delete Later employs conceptual and craft processes to explore how womxn’s experiences are constructed, criticizing selfie culture and outside perception. Hancock pushes to integrate different perspectives in her work. She also strives to produce work built upon her own research and observations on how humans process information and conveys these findings through traditional forms of art. Read more about the artist at: sienajhancock.com

Juyon Lee’s Corner Drawing, a three-dimensional site specific installation, challenges the viewer to reconsider the indexical quality of a material in terms of the human experience. By disrupting the function of familiar materials like mylar, wood, drywall, and light, the spectator experiences the ephemerality of human presence and the potential of human agency. The piece emphasizes the communication between the human body, the physical object, and the light, bringing a unique experience to every individual.  Read more about the artist at: juyonlee.com

Arushi Singh’s video and photo collection, Paran Aamad abstracts the intricate movements of the Indian classical dance of Kathak. Singh pays homage to Kathak by carefully preserving these subtle bodily movements through film. This modernization allows for new abstractions to emerge, expanding the audience of Kathak. Read more about the artist at: https://www.arushisingh.net/

Georden West ‘19: The video piece Patron Saint manifests magic and innovation, operating through an inherently queer medium of gender expression—fashion. West fuses Jamall Osterholm’s fashion line and mystical landscape to explore how the power of fashion and media unpacks traditional conventions of gender, race, and sexuality. Starring an all queer cast and creative team, Osterholm and West’s collaboration rebuilds a world reimagining power dynamics and elevates the black queer body to the celestial. Read more about the artist at: geordenewest.com 

Marika Whitaker uses map pins to locate and articulate power dynamics in I Looked Away When I Answered. Whitaker uses dotted lines as a recurring motif which motivate a commitment staying in touch with what we don’t know, the practice of building connections, and symbolizes gaps in knowledge. Strings are a binding agent, holding tension and weight, and serving as a means of communication between points. Read more about the artist at: marikawhitakerstudio.com 

Zhidong Zhang’s photographic series Natural Impersonation digests how sexuality and identity are constructed under the repression of homosexuality in Chinese culture. A cast of Zhang’s friends and family embodies the artist’s experiences as a closeted gay man. His work challenges notions of normality and identification while invoking the power of queer identity. Zhang investigates how and for whom homosexuality is made visible. He is particularly interested in expressing scenes of desire, trauma, humor, defiance, and violence in his work. Read more about the artist at: instagram.com/zhangzhidong

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Location

25 Avery Street, Boston MA 02111

Hours

Wednesday to Sunday, 12:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Connect with Us

Questions?

Contact: contemporary [at] emerson.edu

The Media Art Gallery on 25 Avery Street is centrally located near the Boston Common in the Theater District of the Downtown Crossing neighborhood—and the only gallery in Boston exclusively focused on moving image art, performance art and emergent media. It was founded by the late Joseph D. Ketner II, with the intent of creating easier public access and more visibility for Emerson’s contemporary art exhibitions.


Emerson College opened the Media Art Gallery in the fall of 2016. The Gallery serves as the locus of the College’s initiative to develop contemporary visual art as a vital component of Emerson’s arts profile.

Funding for the creation of the Media Art Gallery has been provided by the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, a program of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, administered through a collaboration between MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural council. Additional funding has been provided by the George I. Alden Trust and individual contributors to the Emerson Contemporary.